A RAPID response team (RRT) has been ordered to go to Iraq’s city of Erbil in Kurdistan region to assist the Philippine Embassy in Baghdad in monitoring and preparing for any contingency that may arise as a result of escalating fighting in Mosul, which has been under the control of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.
Erbil is only a few kilometers away from Mosul.
Although the prevailing situation does not require a change in the current crisis alert level 4, Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. said appropriate steps would have to be taken early to ensure preparedness to lead overseas Filipinos workers (OFWs) in Kurdistan out of harm’s way.
Yasay instructed Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs Jesus Yabes to immediately deploy the RRT to Kurdistan, assess the situation in Mosul, issue advisories and alerts and engage with the Filipino community in Erbil and neighboring areas.
The official said this is a proactive measure to assure OFWs in Kurdistan of the Philippine government’s readiness to assist them in times of crisis.
There is no established Philippine diplomatic or consular presence in the Kurdistan region.
As such, the Philippine embassies in Baghdad, Ankara and Tehran have been instructed to activate their crisis teams to prepare for contingencies in case the OFWs are transported across their borders.
Charles Jose, Foreign Affairs spokesman and assistant secretary, said the latest report showed that there are more than 2,000 Filipinos in Iraq–300 of them in Baghdad, 1,500 in Kurdistan and the rest in Basra and southern provinces.
The Department of Foreign Affairs is reminding all OFWs in Kurdistan to be vigilant and monitor advisories issued by the Philippine Embassy in Baghdad at all times.